Winter League Update: 1/3

With only a month and a half until pitchers and catchers report, the winter leagues in Latin America are beginning to gear up for their playoffs and, eventually, the Caribbean Series between the Mexican, Puerto Rican, Venezuelan, and Dominican Leagues.

Venezuelan League

The playoffs are already in full swing in Venezuela, but for the Lara Cardenales, the dream has already passed.

The Cardenales entered the all-star break with the best record in their division and were regarded as favorites in the league's playoffs. Then the roster was hit hard by a number of changes, with Cesar Jimenez sitting out the final month of the season after being hit by a line drive, and Rick Guttormson heading back to the U.S. for the holidays.

By the end of the season, the Cardenales roster had become a revolving door for pitchers and position players coming in for a quick tune-up or being promoted from the minor leagues.

In the brief series against Pastora, the Cardenales were swept out the door, first 3-2, then 8-5 a day later. Jose Lopez was held hitless through eight at-bats, while former Mariner Luis Ugueto was held to two hits in nine at-bats from the leadoff spot.

Perhaps the only bright spot on the pitching staff in those two days was the stellar pitching of a Hernandez. No, not Mariners prospect Felix Hernandez, who sat out the season in exchange for a spring training invite, but his older brother Moises Hernandez, who pitched in Baltimore's Appalachian League affiliate in the 2004 season and posted a 5.07 ERA over 60.1 innings.

The elder Hernandez kept Pastora hitless over 2.1 IP and struck out one along the way. While Felix couldn't take the mound himself, he has to be proud of the work his brother put in when the going got tough.

Renee Cortez
1-1, 10.50 ERA, 12.0 IP, 14K, 8 BB

Jose Escalona
0-0, 3.18 ERA, 5.2 IP, 5 K, 6 BB

Emiliano Fruto
0-1, 2.70 ERA, 3.1 IP, 3 K, 3 BB

Juan Gonzalez
.296/.394/.444, 8 R, 3 2B, 7 BB, 12 SO

Edgar Guaramato
0-0, 3.33 ERA, 24.1 IP, 14 K, 17 BB

Rick Guttormson
5-2, 1.15 ERA, 31.1 IP, 38 K, 11 BB

Jesus Guzman
.000/.000/.000, 4 AB, 3 R, 0 BB, 3 SO

Cesar Jimenez
2-0, 2.51 ERA, 32.1 IP, 21 K, 14 BB

Jose Lopez
.311/.349/.585, 11 2B, 10 HR, 11 BB, 15 SO

Luis Oliveros
.177/.200/.306, 2 2B, 2 HR, 1 BB, 10 SO

Puerto Rican League

The Mayaguez Indios have finished second in the league with a 21-16 record, which means that four of the six Mariners prospects playing in the league will be tested in the playoffs.

In the final game of the season for Mayaguez, three of the four played in a nail biter against Manati where the Indios eventually came out ahead, 10-9. Melvin Rosario entered the game during the fourth inning in relief of former Tacoma Rainier Bill Pulsipher, after he gave up six earned runs in just three and a third innings, leaving the score at 7-1 in Manati's favor.

Rosario did what he could to hold back Manati, but ended up allowing a run on a hit and two walks over the course of five outs, bringing his season ERA to 4.30.

The next Mariner farmhand to step up was Melvin Pizarro in the seventh inning. Pizarro pitched two innings and allowed a run on a solo home run, which did little to change his 4.50 ERA on the season. At the same time, the Indios were rallying back with a vengeance. The score was 8-4 against them when Pizarro entered the game, and was 10-9 by the time he was pulled in favor of another former Rainier in Bill Simas.

A key figure in the rally by the Indios was Erick Monzon, who took over at second when Twins prospect Felix Molina was pulled from the game. Monzon, who had been struggling of late, split time between second and third during the game, getting a single in two official at-bats, walking three times, and scoring two runs. This performance brings his line in the Puerto Rican League up to .259/.344/.463 in 54 at-bats.

The only Mariners prospect with the team to not appear in that game was starter Juan Done. The 24-year-old, who posted a 3.58 ERA over 27.2 innings in the winter season, is probably being saved for the playoffs.

Juan Done
0-1, 3.58 ERA, 27.2 IP, 24 K, 7 BB

Miguel Martinez
2-2, 3.38 ERA, 21.1 IP, 12 K, 16 BB

Melvin Pizarro
1-1, 4.50 ERA, 12.0 IP, 8 K, 9 BB

Melvin Rosario
0-0, 4.30 ERA, 14.2 IP, 5 K, 9 BB

Erick Monzon
.259/.344/.463, 2 2B, 3 HR, 6 BB, 12 SO

Rene Rivera
.239/.280/.394, 5 2B, 2 HR, 4 BB, 20 SO

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